National Hunt and Flat
Approx no. of meetings
Rail from Cork (25 minutes)
Free shuttle from the railway station to racecourse (or walk into town and use the shuttle bus from the Hibernia hotel)
Taxis (Rank at station plentiful at track. Advance booking advisable on race days)
The track has two stands, the second and newer of which holds standard and full table service dining, including an owner’s and trainer’s section. Bars and bookies are plentiful as is the area of twenty or so tic-tac bookies between the two stands
We stayed at Hayfield Manor (for the second time) and although other options are available, I suggest you spoil yourself, as this is one of the best hotels, we have ever had the pleasure to stay at
Standard and Premier tickets were available on the day, but we took the options to eat a 3-course meal and have a dedicated table in the restaurant which was extremely good value at €55 each.
(2) Return after challenge purely because we have the last track booked in less than a week.
22th April 2019 – Tracks Visited: UK (60), Ireland (5), France (1), Barbados (1)
Cork (Mallow) is many things, and Madam Hoof and I wonder if this is why it feels all a bit schizophrenic (in a nice way). It is labelled as Cork racecourse, but its more than 35km outside of Cork and is also called Mallow when it seems convenient. It is an enigma, as it feels like a delightful countryside course, until you arrive and realise it has the standard and facilities of far more mainstream tracks.
Let’s begin with the getting there. The train up from Cork is a thing of beauty. Not only did it run on time, but we had the weather to compliment the view. We have still only had rain at 5 tracks on our odyssey and in this case the unseasonably hot Easter weekend was an added bonus. The lush green undulating landscape was a pleasant distraction from the racing post for the 24-minute train journey. Stage 1, completed on time (Southern region please take note). The shuttle bus to the track was waiting outside and whipped us to the course in juts over 5 minutes (other UK tracks take note). Stage 2 completed.
The welcome at the track was warm and we were given clear instructions as to where to go (politely). When we arrived in the restaurant (small point, I hate wristbands and they are not as nice as badges which we can keep as memories for our collection), we were seated at a table for two and then looked after all day by the excellent Tommy and his colleagues. This was simply one of the best experiences in terms of explanation, service and flexibility. Great kudos for the team involved who are apparently from a local hotel, which explains the customer focus (again, other English tracks should take note). The view from the balcony on the top floor was excellent, but one point of improvement was that the commentary was impossible to hear from that location. Inside the restaurant, the number of repeater screens and excellent sound made races from Cork and other places easy to follow.
The course is laid out with the parade ring behind the grandstand, but with a balcony on the first floor and windows on the second to allow horses to be viewed from inside. This does tend to cause the now oft lamented tidal flow between races where the crowd goes from front to back and vice versa. On Easter Monday, the crowds were apparently much smaller than the previous day, but this could have been quite difficult if it was busier.
The races themselves were a nice mixture of large fields, some pro riders and a series of point to point style races. I suspect this may have been a side-effect of the larger meeting taking place for the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. This, however, had no impact on the quality of the races and the whole event was a delight.
In summary, Madam Hoof and I loved the track, the people, the weather and the transport. This is a great sport we follow, made all the better for racing at small tracks in the country which are more about horse racing than all of the corporatism’s of the larger tracks in the UK. Thank you Cork (Mallow) racecourse, we shall certainly return.